Gambling in Ancient Civilizations: Facts You Should Know

Before it became popular, many people had been gambling in ancient civilizations. It has existed as a way of deriving pleasure from sports among civilizations. This was right from the Paleolithic era, i.e., before the documentation of history.

There are assumptions that the initial forms of betting go back to approximately 3000BC. This was in the historic part of Western Asia, where they played games with six-sided dice. China took to the use of playing cards during the 9th century. And the Persians were the first set of people to develop As-Nas, or Poker as you know it today.

Many of the casino games you know today were adopted from ancient civilizations. Let us take a more in-depth look at gambling and other ancient civilizations.

Gambling in Ancient Civilizations: China

Betting became painful in ancient China during an estimated 2300BC (of the Xia dynasty). The Chinese were the first people to develop playing cards that had symbols and numbers. They were the first to ‘shuffle’ money as well. As you might likely guess, this eventually brought about card shuffling. 

This civilization was also the one that created Keno and other popular online casino games in Chinese. These include Mahjong, Yue Har Hai, Wei-Qi, and Xuan He Pai (which we know as domino).

Almost all forms of gambling are not legal today in mainland China. However, state-run lotteries and certain games are legal in Macau and Hong Kong regions. Overall, the country is well known for betting on live casinos and many others throughout the far east.

Gambling in Ancient Greece

Betting was illegal for several centuries in Ancient Greece. But its citizens still played the first variations of heads or tails, checkers, and other chance or luck-based betting games.

When people of this civilization began to play dice games, they did so using either 3/4 dice. They had to shake it and pour it out from a special cup.

Then, people mocked that sentient beings were mainly in control of dice.

People also tagged it as an easy way to make guesses that had zero effect on the result of an actual game.

According to Greek mythology, betting in ancient Greece started very long ago. This was when the god's Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon split the universe into parts.

Poseidon won over the seas, Zeus won the skies, and Hades plotted the short straw, finishing up at the underworld. This was the outcome after their final bet.

Gambling in Ancient Civilizations: Rome

Rome has ever been famous for its notorious gambling culture and history. Notably, when it was under the rule of Emperor Augustus, who was believed to have had a severe gambling addiction.

Gambling was strictly illegal during the period of the Roman Empire. However, there was a festival known as ‘Saturnalia' held yearly (to honor the god Saturn).

It gave both women and men the privilege to drink, eat, and play games for an entire week.

The central part of the festivity was the exchange of roles between enslaved people and their enslavers. Here, enslaved people could place bets and dine at the table with their masters.

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Sean O'Connell

Content Writer

Sean grew up in a small town in County Kerry, Ireland. He always had a love for storytelling and writing, which led him to pursue a career in content writing. He currently lives in Dublin, where he spends his free time exploring the city and visiting different casinos.

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